Happy February, happy Palindrome Day! There’s only one month and one day left until Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Gold is finally published. We’ve almost made it! Today we have the final flash fiction for you, a continuation of January’s. The Carstairs are in Paris to celebrate Will and Tessa’s 18th wedding anniversary and Cordelia has just found James in the Institute’s library.
“Hello,” said James Herondale. He peered up at Cordelia owlishly, as though he’d just come out of a reverie and wasn’t quite returned to the fully waking world.
“By the Angel, I’m awfully sorry.” Cordelia couldn’t help feeling she had interrupted something. She had met James before, of course—Will Herondale had been nothing if not diligent about making sure that his children and the Carstairs children knew one another—but she would not have described him as a friend, necessarily. He was a bit unknowable, in his odd way.
“No need to apologize,” James said mildly, “it’s me who’s skiving off this party to read.” He sat up rather suddenly, as if he’d only just realized he had been splayed casually across the windowsill and he should seek some kind of propriety.
“Most people don’t skive off parties,” Cordelia said, amused. “It’s usually lessons and chores, that sort of thing. Do you not like parties?”
“I like parties just fine,” James said, a bit defensively.
Cordelia crossed her arms and said sternly, “Well, I am in the library because I wanted to see the Paris Institute library, but also because almost the whole party are strangers to me. But they’re your friends, aren’t they? Wouldn’t you want to be with your friends? Matthew, and Thomas and the rest?”
James gave Cordelia a long look. When he spoke, his voice was quiet. “They are my friends, I suppose, but really they’re more like relatives. I’ve always felt out of place among them.”
The thought of James being out of place anywhere struck Cordelia as funny. Compared to herself, he was self-assured, charismatic, effortlessly interesting. Compared to her awkward discomfort inside her own body, he was graceful and strikingly handsome—
Good Lord, Cordelia thought, where had that come from?
It was true, though. Among the pillars and medieval arches of the library he looked as at home as a marble statue, an oil painting of a classical youth at study. How could someone who matched his environment so perfectly be uncomfortable?
“I always feel out of place too,” she offered. “But I thought it was just because my family is always traveling so much. I’ve never stayed in one place long enough to make friends.” She looked down at the ground. “Maybe it’s more complicated than that.”
James said, “We’re friends, aren’t we?”
Raise your hand if the ending of the final flash fiction made you sad. Thank goodness James has found good friends in Chain of Gold!
As usual, we also have accompanying art by Cassandra Jean. This time there’s a young Cordelia with her father Elias.
Chain of Gold is published on 3 March! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?